Blockchain, is starting to make its presence felt in the telecoms industry. Blockchain may be familiar to some as the technology that is used by Bitcoin, the digital currency. Now SoftBank, the Japanese tech company is forming a partnership with two American firms, the telecoms provider Sprint, and TBCASoft, a startup software developer, to create a blockchain application for telecoms carriers. The result should enable TBCASoft to create a blockchain platform that operates across carriers.
Blockchain potentially has a wide range of applications. Some see blockchain as the future of banking and finance. For those unfamiliar with blockchain, it is a system of organising data digitally, so that it becomes a kind of electronic ledger comprising contracts, agreements and transactions. It can include any exchanges that need to be independently validated and then recorded as having taken place. Instead of a physical ledger that remains in one location, the digital version is sent to a number of computers, even hundreds or possibly thousands of computers, situated all over the globe. As all the members of the network can see this digital ledger, it provides easily accessed, transparent and up to date information.
Ledgers of digital records are created when chunks of data are pulled together in a block, then linked into a chain, both chronologically and cryptographically with mathematically advanced algorithms. This way of encrypting the data is called hashing. The hashing is done by a number of computers which all have to be in agreement, and then each block of data is given its own digital code. In this system, the details of an exchange will not be recorded, but it taking place will be noted, along with its hash. After that, this account in a ledger cannot be altered, only more information added, and all members of the network are updated at the same time.
Blockchain offers good security as a hash cannot be converted into its original data - the process is one way. Additionally, blockchain records are harder to breach, as a hacker would have to enter every database in the distribution network at the same time.
A blockchain platform for telecoms could be used to enhance mobile and office based telephony solutions, VOIP systems, and call handling systems, along with billing. More details of the way SoftBank, Sprint and TBCASoft will combine to enhance mobile and office based telephony solutions will be available in June.
Many companies are now developing blockchain technology, hoping to make business systems more efficient. The idea of blockchain was introduced more than two decades ago, but it didn’t receive a lot of attention until Bitcoin appeared in 2008. Banks are looking into blockchain technology as a way of reducing costs, simplifying processes and making transactions faster.
The communications industry also needs to stay abreast of technological developments and offer customers advances in call handling systems, VOIP systems and business systems. With blockchain technology, some services could become cheaper and more efficient. Blockchain could also be instrumental in assisting with data protection.
As SoftBank owns 80 per cent of Sprint, it is in a solid position to test blockchain technology, prove its capabilities and put it to work on a network.